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BenzingaEditorial

COVID-10 Even Managed to Weaken the Invincible Coca Cola

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Coca Cola Earnings

The Coca-Cola company (NYSE:KO) had a very strong performance in 2019 and started 2020 with rather solid results. But COVID-19 has spared no one. And the same goes for the beverage giant whose sales fizzled as the pandemic took 25% off its global volumes.

Excluding China, the company’s unit case volume was growing by 3% all until the end of February, before coughs were heard around and countries worldwide began enacting social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders.

Q1 Earnings Report

Excluding asset impairment charges and other items, Coca-Cola reported adjusted first-quarter earnings of 51 cents per share on revenues that dropped 1% to $8.60 billion. This resulted in a net income of $2.78 billion, or 64 cents per share. But the organic revenue was flat as it strips out the impact of foreign currency and acquisitions. The 2020 outlook was withdrawn in March as it is very hard to predict and quantify the impact of the ongoing pandemic.

Resulting headwinds

The closure of cinemas, restaurants, bars and stadiums due to measures of social distancing is hurting Coca Cola business, and this blow cannot be amortized with the stock piling people are getting while on lockdown. Moreover, an even more significant impact is expected on its second-quarter results. But the ultimate impact for the year will depend heavily on the duration of government-imposed measures, but also on the pace of macroeconomic recovery. One thing is certain, the impact on the second quarter will be material.

Still doing better than others?

Fortunately, still about half of Coca Cola’s revenue comes from all of us in self-quarantines, or home-consumption that is. Meanwhile, although Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) has reopened 95% of its coffee stores in mainland China, the storm has moved to its home teritorry. Speaking of bad luck for both epicenters of pandemic to be its most important markets! But Starbucks is trying to cash in on changing habits as its customers in China are about to get a whole lot more milk alternatives and vegan pastas. Starbucks has teamed up with oat milk maker Oatly and plant-based protein companies Beyond Meat Inc (NASDAQ:BYND) and Omnipork in to offer meat-free and general animal origin-free  products. So, at 4,200 Starbucks stores in China, coffee lovers will also have the opportunity to taste oat milk matcha lattes, lasagne made with Beyond Meat’s meat substitute for beef and Asian noodle salads with Omnipork’s, you would guess, pork substitute.

The health switch- is it enough?

Coca Cola has made a good move with a healthier switch like smaller cans and Zero Sugar soda, and new products under its namesake brand, like Coke Energy but is this enough as the world is shifting to a sugar-free foods market?

The battle with plastic waste- is Coca Cola doing enough?

And there is also the question of plastic pollution as Tearfun report has shown that each year, four global drinks giants are responsible for more than half a million tons of plastic pollution in six developing countries. If that number doesn’t speak volumes to you, just imagine 83 football pitches, on a daily basis. But despite showing concern, both Coca Cola and Pepsi (NASDAQ:PEP) seem to be falling short on their pledges.

Post-COVID-19 era – e-commerce, cost cuts and sustainability

E-commerce growth rate did double in many countries, but unfortunately this still remains a relatively small part of Coca Cola’s overall business. The company is cutting costs wherever possible, and this includes its generous marketing spending. It has no plans to cut its dividend as it is a blue-chip stock after all, but don’t expect any acquisitions this year or stock repurchases.

Coca Cola has already been through challenging times and it is positioned to manage through the storm. But will it emerge stronger in the new era upon us depends a lot on its efforts on the sustainability front. If this unprecedented health crisis has taught us anything, it is that nature is doing just fine without us, it is doing even better actually. So it’s about time we learn to respect our planet. And our own health, as consumers are learning to become healthier and are consequently changing their habits. The big question is: will the fizzling giant adapt to this new world?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

BenzingaEditorial

Should Salesforce Shareholders Rejoice or Be Concerned?

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Mid Cap Stocks

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) will have its annual meeting of stockholders on Thursday, June 11, 2020, but in virtual form. The stock of the global leader in CRM tumbled immediately following its recent first-quarter results. The months before and at the initial phase of the pandemic were exceptionally good. But it is the second-quarter and full-year fiscal 2021 guidance for the year ending Jan. 31, 2021 that resulted in a downgrade. Yet despite the damage and costs brought on by COVID-19, its shareholders have a lot of positive development to rejoice in.

Impressive growth considering the circumstances

Considering the global climate, the fact that Salesforce continued to grow at a fast pace is beyond admirable. Moreover, highlights from the start of the year include the largest deal that Salesforce ever booked and it is with AT&T (NYSE:T). The telecommunications giant will be building a new unified view of all its customer data using Salesforce. It will begin upgrading its services to create a better customer experience during summer.

Market domination

As for the fiscal 2021, the CRM giant clearly dominated the market with $20 billion of expected annual sales. In addition, the pandemic accelerated the switch to cloud computing. Over the recent months, businesses have rushed to implement work-from-home solutions. This is expected to only further boost the company’s SaaS businesses. As for 2019, it was well ahead of SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) with 18.4% in market share as opposed to 5.3% and 5.2% respectively, according to research firm IDC.

Altered Revenue Structure

While Salesforce has been known as a SaaS powerhouse throughout its entire 21-year existence, this has now changed. Its largest and fastest-growing business is now “Platform and Other” as it topped Service, Sales, Marketing and Commerce. Moreover, the shape of the enterprise is continually evolving. That’s a profound development for a company which occupies third place on the Cloud list. It is just behind the mighty Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Moreover, this is a very clear indicator that the world’s top cloud providers are doing everything in their power to enhance their offerings. The cloud is after all becoming the new IT foundation of the digital economy.

Going strong despite headwinds

Overall, this software giant proved it managed to become and remain an essential ingredient of many organizations’ operational needs. And what’s even more impressive, it maintained its status during such difficult times. The mega-cap cloud computing leader that has a current market cap of $157 billion, along with growing sales of nearly 20% and a stable free cash flow amid a deep recession, is still in an admirable position. And one that is surely envied by its many peers. This tech giant has plenty of liquidity to continue aggressively investing its development along with taking care of both its customers and employees. Moreover, the pace of digital transformation is only accelerating with lifestyles getting significantly altered by COVID-19. And like one of the pioneers leading this transformation, Salesforce has nothing to fear as it is both changing and thriving in the current climate.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Slack Fails to Deliver Another COVID-19 Blockbuster

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Stock Market Tumble

Unlike Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ:ZM), Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE:WORK) didn’t manage to deliver a blockbuster quarter. By no means was it bad as the company reported steady revenue growth with usage increasing over the pandemic. Even Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be offering Slack to its employees. But expectations were quite higher  so shares ended up dropping 17% in extended trading on Thursday.

First quarter earnings report

Revenue of $201.7 million resulted in an adjusted loss of 2 cents per share. The company added a record 12,000 paid customers in the quarter. This is more than 5,000 in the two previous quarters. Slack’s top competitor, Microsoft’s Teams, saw an explosive expansion of 70% in April as it reached more than 75 million daily active users.

For the next quarter, the company’s guidance for revenue is $206 million to $209 million with an adjusted loss of 4 cents to 3 cents per share.

AWS investment

Besides Amazon offering Slack to its employees, Slack will adopt Amazon Web Services’ Chime video-calling technology to enhance its calling features. Slack amended its initial agreement with AWS where it commited to at least $250 million in a five-year period that ended in 2023. It will now pay least $425 million over a five-year period that ends in April 2025.

Slack didn’t board the blockbuster boat but still did good

Revenue growth was 50% which is pretty much the same as 49% in the previous quarter. Zoom pulled off a 169% revenue growth, more than doubling guidance and exceeding forecasts. Not to mention the skyrocketing usage of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Microsoft Teams. Slack didn’t manage to board that boat. But Zoom’s executives have a different way of looking at it. They find it as a great indication that they are not apples-to-apples rivals as the products are not truly competitive with one another. If we exclude the after-hours move, its shares did go up about 70% since the beginning of the year. But can Slack afford not catching up to the popularity of Zoom and Microsoft is a question that subsequent quarters will answer. Yet, many analysts see the pandemic as the point that either makes or breaks such companies whose products benefit from social distancing. If not now, when?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Even Oil Giants Are Under Tremendous Pressure

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Canadian Oil

The global oil market is in a state of hysteria. And not only COVID-19 is to blame, although its impact is being felt all over the globe. It is inevitable for the near future to be filled with bankruptcies, cost savings and cuts in spending as businesses are looking for ways to get through this historically difficult period.

The troubled industry

The year already began with over supply thanks to decades worth of expansion in U.S. onshore production. The price war between OPEC and Russia only further amplified the oversupply problem. That issue has at least been resolved. But the real hit was the global economic shutdown from COVID-19 which resulted in a drop in demand. With too much oil and too little demand, oil prices have plummeted to historic lows.

Cutting dividends

The current headwinds are intense, and have led many energy companies to trim their dividends. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.B) and Equinor are two direct competitors that have taken this drastic step to ensure they have ample cash to survive and they have a long histories of reliably returning cash to investors. Even Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP) which had a streak of 47 annual dividend hikes under its belt along with a rock-solid balance sheet still felt it necessary to cut the dividend in March.

It’s only logical to question whether or not peers ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) will be forced to do the same.

Chevron cutting jobs

Chevron has increased its dividend annually for 33 consecutive years. At the end of the first quarter, Chevron’s total long-term debt had increased roughly 20% from the start of the year. At the end of May, it announced a 15 percent cut of its global workforce.

Exxon has no layoff plans

Exxon’s dividend streak is even longer as it has increased its dividend annually for 37 consecutive years. But Exxon’s long-term debt jumped even more than Chevron since the beginning of the year as it rose by nearly a third.

Top and bottom lines at Exxon and Chevron are clearly driven by the price of oil which reached historic lows. Even Russia’s second-largest oil producer PJSC Lukoil (OTC:LUKOY) hurt by lower oil prices as it reported a first-quarter net loss of $669 million on Wednesday.

Shell and Equinor Vs Exxon and Chevron

Thus, Shell and Equinor chose to preserve cash by cutting their dividends. Starting out with much lower leverage, Exxon and Chevron have more balance sheet flexibility and they are using to protect their dividends, for now. Paying a consistent and growing dividend is important to the boards of these energy giants. But the energy market is at a painful place right now.

The boards of Exxon and Chevron will make the hard call to cut their dividends if need be.

Whichever the scenario, the big guys actually have a shot at pulling through thanks to the help of the Trump Administration, unlike many of their small peers which won’t even be able to afford Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Uncertain future

There have been multiple ups and downs in the historically cyclical energy sector over the last three decades. But the biggest change is yet to take place: the green revolution. Exxon and Chevron have taken steps toward the low-carbon future. Exxon is developing biofuels from algae, while Chevron has invested in solar, wind and geothermal power sources. But environmental activists say they haven’t done enough. So, even with the support of the Trump administration, oil has an uncertain future. And even oil giants will need to fight for survival in the post-COVID-19 era.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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